Scientists advance creation of 'artificial lymph node' to fight cancer, other diseases - (ScienceDaily via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Results from a proof-of-principle study in mice demonstrated that a specialized gel that "acts" like a lymph node was able to successfully activate and multiply cancer-fighting immune system T-cells, reported ScienceDaily.

  • Current T-cell booster therapy, including costly CAR-T therapy, requires physicians to remove T-cells from the blood of a patient with cancer and inject the cells back into the patient after either genetically engineering or activating the cells in a laboratory so they recognize cancer-linked molecular flags.

  • The new work, reported in the journal Advanced Materials, is a bid by Johns Hopkins scientists to find a more efficient way of engineering T-cells, the news source said.

  • To make the engineered T-cells' environment more biologically realistic, investigators tried using a hydrogel as a platform for the T-cells. On the hydrogel, the scientists added two types of signals that stimulate and "teach" T-cells to hone in on foreign targets to destroy.

  • In their experiments, T-cells activated on hydrogels produced 50 percent more cytokines, a marker of activation, than T-cells kept on plastic culture dishes.

  • Further, when the team put T-cells onto a soft hydrogel, they found that the T-cells multiplied from just a few cells to about 150 000 cells within seven days. When they  used other conventional methods to stimulate and expand T-cells, they were able to culture only 20 000 cells within seven days.

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